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Aoife is a week old!

Aug. 7th, 2009 | 08:07 am

Aoife Sylvana Finan-Thoms was born at 11:20 pm last Thursday night.  She was 7 lbs 12.4 oz, and 20 inches long.  She's also a super-baby and was able to hold her head up since birth.

Aoife is pronounced "Ee-fa", and is an Irish name that means "radiant".

And we think that she's living up to her name! 

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Yes, I am still pregnant...

Jul. 26th, 2009 | 02:19 pm
location: Home
mood: impatient!

Well, as I am three days overdue now, and have no cute cuddly baby pictures to post yet, I figured I'd post some of my most recent pregnancy photos.
We took these on July 13, at about 38.5 weeks.  That was about two weeks ago, and the average baby puts on around 1/2 lb a week...  So I'm a little bit bigger by now.  Baby has also dropped a bit more, and you can tell when I stand in profile.

I love this picture of Christopher and I and baby.  I think I look pretty smug about having snagged the two of them.
So, hopefully there will be some labor and new baby posts soon.  Any ideas for jump-starting things? 

We went for a very nice hike at Lake Maria State Part yesterday, which was really beautiful, and have already gone on one walk today, with plans for more this evening.  I think I may get Thoms to do some acupressure, too.

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Foray into lace

Aug. 22nd, 2008 | 12:00 pm
location: Office
mood: chipperchipper

Well, no pics of the socks I wrote about last time.  I have yet to weave in the ends and tighten up the toe grafting on one of them.  They'll be nice to wear come sock weather, but right now I just want to forget them.  Grrr...

I have been knitting a bit lately, though.  My current big project is a shawl for one of my best friends to wear for her wedding.  The wedding is on Sept. 27, so I don't have a lot of time!  This is my first real lace (with the exception of a pair of socks that integrated yarn overs), and chose a pretty big project using pretty little yarn.

I'm knitting FiddleSticks' Peacock Feathers Shawl in ivory lace-weight silk.  It's really very beautiful so far, and if I get it done I know my friend will love it.  However, I'm probably only 1/3 done...  and I doubt that estimate includes the border and blocking.

The problem is that this takes all my concentration, so no knitting the shawl while watching television or playing a game or even chatting.  I might not be cut out for a lot of these sorts of projects that require actual focus...

Lace really is magic, though.  Check it out:

1) What I had about two weeks ago:  (knit mostly on planes)

2) All spread out:

3) Half lightly blocked with a steam iron:

4) And a close up of the lace pattern.  (The blue and white and yellow yarn going through the design are my lifelines.)

Isn't that cool?!

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Summer knitting

Jul. 9th, 2008 | 10:56 am
mood: energeticenergetic

After my last post I planned a little break from difficult knitting.  I know that one vest, with just one cabled panel, knitted in beautiful soft alpaca/wool worsted weight yarn on relatively large needles, for a relatively undemanding medium-sized human, would not stress out a dedicated, experienced knitter.  No waist or bust shaping, no lace, no recipient concerned about various 'figure flaws', no sleeves.  However, I am merely a mildly dedicated and mildly experienced knitter.  The knittng portions of my brain were fried.

So, I thought, 'socks are the answer'.  Socks are small, pretty, and easy.

Goddam if socks don't hurt my brain, too.

I ordered pretty Socks that Rock yarn from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, a skein for me and a skein for spouse - the recipient of the vest.  I began with the skein for me - STR lightweight in a turquoise-black colorway called Spinel.

I wanted a simple pattern, but something slightly more interesting than straight stockinette and a heel flap.  That was where I went wrong.  I should have stuck to the plan - super easy, brain vacation knitting.  But no, I decided Knitty's Thuja would be a nice pattern...but that was written for worsted weight yarn.  Well, no problem, I'd just use the Thuja ribbing pattern and increase the number of stitches, maybe try a short row heel.  THIS SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DIFFICULT.  I have made socks before.  Many of them.

Sigh.  I am just now - something like 2.5 months later - getting to the toes of the socks.  My first attempt turned out to be inadvertently knitted on size 0 needles instead of 1s.  I got through a short row heel on that one before realizing that it was not going to fit any adult sized human I knew, much less myself.  My second attempt got to the same point before I realized that 68 stitches around on size 1s was also not going to be an adequate size.

On the third attempt, I finally got the width correct.  Size 1 needles, 72 stitches around.  Finally.  Did my 3rd short row heel successfully (well, more or less.  Are they supposed to have those little holes down the sides?).  Continued into the foot.  Cool.

Inspiration struck... Hmmm.... my socks tend to wear out on the balls of my feet and sometimes at the big toe.  Apparently years and years of running and hiking have resulted in super-callouses on the balls of my feet that eat through socks.  STR, thought beautiful, is 100% merino wool - a good thing for most reasons, but less hardy than a wool/nylon blend.  I have wondered since my very first sock how one would make a squishy-footed sock.  Perhaps I could pad the ball of the foot and the toe, so as to avoid them wearing out too fast...  After all, I've put in like a million hours knitting them...

To be continued...

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Green Cable Vest, Part 2

May. 9th, 2008 | 07:09 pm

So, where were we?  Oh, yeah.  I thought that designing a sweater from scratch, after not having actually knit a sweater before, would be a Good Idea.

On a visit to a yarn store in the far away urban-ish center, the Badger (who had given me some money for Christmas yarn), discovered The Perfect Vest Yarn.  He was enamored of Berroco Ultra Alpaca.  So, I made note of the color.  Marsh Mix.  Lovely.  Sort of more blue that I expected.  I was surprised.  I asked him if he was sure.  He said yes, slightly irritated that I questioned his committment to The Perfect Vest Yarn.  I thought I'd like to purchase the yarn at a store closer to home, in case any troubles arose, and so we left the Yarn Store in the Urbanish Center.

A couple weeks later, we were in another yarn store and I pointed out that they had The Perfect Vest Yarn.  I sent him to purchase it a few days later, and did he come back with the Perfect Vest Yarn?  NO.  He came back with the Nearly Perfect Vest Yarn.  He convinced himself that, contrary to the notes taken at the Urbanish Center store, he didn't like the Marsh Mix, but had been enchanted by the Peat Mix.


And so, the Badger shall be clad in brown-y green and not blue-y green.  It is nearly the Perfect Vest Yarn, though.  Very beautiful, and so fun to knit with!

I swatched.  Kind of a lot.  I agonized about whether to use US 6 or US 7 needles.  Went with 7.
Spent a lot of time figuring out if I ought to knit in the round or in two pieces and seam.  I knit in two pieces, as my yarn is pretty heavy and probably could use the extra structure that seams give.  That and I prefer knitting on longer needles, though I DID NOT like seaming.  Seaming sucks.  Not as bad as weaving in ends in colorwork, but still sucks.

I picked a cable pattern.  It's lovely, and I found it on line at brooklyntweed's blog, only now I don't see the cable project it was from.  Maybe it was from somewhere else.  If you recognize it, let me know.

Anyway, after three months and many adventures (which you can read more about on my ravelry page), I had this.  An honest to goddess  Green Cable Vest.

This is how much yarn I had left.

The last bits- from creating the v-neck onwards - was kind of a bitch.
But here it is in all its glory, modeled by The Badger himself.

And another one:

And the back:

And some detail:

I blocked it using my iron on its steam setting.  Worked quite well, but it seemed easy to overdo it on the cables.  Blocking really was amazing, though.  Everything evened out and got all smooth and lovely.  It really made the neck and arm ribbing look good!

The Badger loves it and I am pretty thrilled, too. 

I started a little garter stitch scarf to aid in my recovery, though.

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(no subject)

May. 9th, 2008 | 02:39 pm

I began a sweater vest for The Badger this past January.  Actually, I guess you could say I *really* began it last July.  That's when I asked my spouse what sort of sweater he'd like me to make for him.  I'd been knitting for a couple years, and felt as though it was time to take on a real project.  I'd just finished knitting Coachella from Knitty for myself, and was feeling brilliant.

He requested a sweater, "like the one from Peru".  The one from Peru is a charcoal gray, plain stockinette, sport weight alpaca vest that I brought back for him from my dissertation research trip to Peru in 2005.  He wears it whenever he can for interviews, special occasions, etc.  (He looks damn good in it, too, I think.)

Okay, I thought.  I'd sort of imagined a big cabled sweater of the gods, or maybe a traditional Norwegian colorworked steeked sweater, but alright.  If he wanted to be boring, I could live with it.  Except, I suggested a cable panel on the front, so as to be a bit more interesting.  He got excited about that.

I needed to know what color and fiber to knit it in.  The Badger has lovely blue eyes, so I sneekily made the off-hand suggestion, "maybe, what? a nice dark blue, or green?".  See, he'd fixate on the 'green' and agree to it, and I could point out that he'd said yes to blue OR green.  Then, by the time I'd actually finished the sweater, he'd already be used to the idea of the blue, after all, how intimidating would a dark blue tweed really be?

Sadly, it turns out that The Badger, like most men that their knitting women blog about, is inexplicably picky about color.  And in this case, overly observant.  He responded to my suggestion with "yeah, I like green."

So, I went on a hunt for green yarn.  There's a lot of it out there, I can tell you.  During the months from August to December, when we were out shopping together, I'd pet sweaters and point out colors and try to get some feedback.  I think, finally, after having lived with the man for almost 10 years, I've figured out how to tell how he actually feels about clothing.  Or at least sweaters.  Well, at least green sweaters.

The Badger is native to Wisconsin, as am I.  His family is utterly and completely German Milwaukee, Midwestern 'nice' (it's been described by other as passive aggressive in some extreme cases).  He would be very comfortable in Garrison Keilor's Lake Woebegone.  What this means regarding the choice of green yarn, is that while he has very definite opinions about yarn, he's unlikely to say when he doesn't like it.

I spent the months I worked on other Christmas knitting figuring out what style sweater vest I wanted to make.  Couldn't find any on-line patterns that were exactly what I wanted, nor library books, and couldn't afford to buy pattern books this past year, so I decided I'd design it myself.  Which wasn't really design, I reasoned, since I did have a few copies of patterns for men's vests, and really, it couldn't be that difficult, right? 

I'll leave you with that cliff-hanger...

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Too many ends to weave in.

Feb. 6th, 2008 | 07:11 pm
mood: grumpygrumpy

Silk tie done.
Cabled vest begun - another gift for Badger Boy (spouse - too old to be a 'boy', actually).
Only 26 more ends to weave in on silk mitt  number 1.  :(  I am about 2/3 done with the knitting of mitt number 2, but, if one counts the ends to weave, I'm actually only a tenth of the way done with the entire mitt...

Why are projects for spouse so much more likely to be completed?

I joined the smiley face club at work today, though.  One hour of writing a day and I get a little orange sticker dot to put on my calendar.  Then, when I get 15 stickers, I get to go out for a drink!  Honestly, now that I think about it, I am not sure where the smiley face part comes in...  that must be the effect of the drink...

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Update on silk tie

Jan. 19th, 2008 | 06:41 pm
mood: mellowmellow

After I decided I'd take a whack at this knitting blog thing - maybe throw in some fun reflections on food and climate change once in awhile - I discovered the Yarn Harlot's blog.  I am so inadequate.  I didn't even know such blogs existed.  Silly me. 

She's wonderful, though.  And I've spent too much time the last couple weeks trying to read all her archives, and neglecting my real work, and knitting, too.

And hers is not the only beautiful, funny, inspiring, engaging, time-sucking knitting blog.  THere are many.  I haven't allowed myself to click much on the links the Harlot kindly adds to her own blog.  It would be too time-consuming.  I wouldn't get anything done - even less than I do now.  It may be a conspiracy to keep me from doing real life work and writing...

The tie has not progressed.  Largely because I became distracted by some sock yarn.  Then I became frustrated by the sock yarn.  (see frustration here.)  Now I'm just pissed off at it.  I decreased the number of stitches I cast on but it remains the same size.  I may have to take a break from it and go back to the tie...

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Some WIPs

Jan. 12th, 2008 | 05:17 pm
location: Home Office
mood: accomplishedaccomplished
music: NFL playoffs in background

I have several new WIPs, knitting-wise.  I have many other WIPs in the rest of my life, too, but we shall focus mostly on the knitting ones today, shall we?  Maybe I'll throw in some mending, just for fun.

First, I cast on a neck tie for The Badger, my spouse, two days before Christmas.  I was not silly enough to think that I would complete the tie before Christmas, though I did allow myself a few minutes of blissful fantasy in which, on Christmas morning, I presented him with a perfectly wrapped little box (probably wrapped in blue.  something sparkley), over which he 'oohhed and aahed' and then opened only to exclaim "A hand-knit linen stitch, hand-dyed reclaimed raw silk neck tie!  How did you know?  My soul has been craving such an item for years!"  After which we would be lost in a passionate embrace, under the soft glow of the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree, hand cut by the two of us from an organic Christmas tree farm...

It was an unlikely scenario for many reasons, some of the most significant being 1) The Badger is a reluctant Christmas reveler and 2) he is also a reluctant tie-wearer (but he does wear ties several times a year, so I am not completely insane for making him one), and 3) we are currently living in a house so tiny that I had to take down the Christmas wreath because it was taking up too much space.

At any rate, I thought that I might complete the tie for his birthday, which was yesterday.
Here is the current state of the tie:

You'll notice that it is not done.  However, it is lovely, and I am quite happy with it so far.  This is my first linen stitch project, and it really is a pretty little stitch.

The bottom little bit is 1x1 ribbing, which is how I began the tie.  There is an unintentional but, I think, fortuitous, subtle striping in the yarn.  And check out the sheen!  Silk rocks, and this reclaimed stuff was totally worth the several hours of frogging the fairly unpleasant yellow/mustardy cabled shirt in which form it used to be.

The Badger received a DVD for a birthday gift instead - the recently re-released, new and improved (apparently, I've never seen it), Blade Runner.  He did oh and ah over this gift.

WIP #2: Latvian Mitts
I love this project.  The Afore-Mentioned Badger gave me this book for Christmas.  Actually, he gave me an old book with a printed off copy of the front of the knitting book taped to it, wrapped in Christmas paper he stole from my paper stash...  (Then proceeded to play with his Christmas toys that I thoughtfully gave to him on Christmas, as I mournfully paged through the old book that turned out to be a gaming manual from his high school days. Dungeons and Dragons, I think.)  But the Veronik Avery book arrived the 26th, so I forgave him his holiday procrastination.

Here are my mitts so far:

There's just the one, and a little bit of the second, but I love them!
This is my first colorwork project, and it's going fairly well.  The bottom of the mitt is much tighter than the top, and the ideal gauge is really somewhere in between, but they're so pretty!

I think I will end here, and save my mending post for another day.  I have a tie to knit, after all.  Not to mention work WIPs that really ought to be done by Monday...

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Blog's new life

Jan. 3rd, 2008 | 03:49 pm
location: Office
mood: creativecreative

Blog will be re-purposed for reflections on sustainable living, food and agriculture, and knitting.
Welcome to 2008!

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